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LA FACE SUPÉRIEURE ET MOYENNE DES HOMINIDÉS FOSSILES DEPUIS LE PLÉISTOCÈNE INFÉRIEUR RÉCENT

Abstract : In the 1970's, the “pre-sapiens theory” dealing with the presence of modern humans'ancestors in Europe, was abandoned for lack of paleoanthropological evidence. The new consensus was that the fossil hominids gradually evolved towards Neanderthals, but twenty years later, the accumulation of human remains from Spanish sites Gran Dolina and Sima de los Huesos re-opened the debate on the taxonomy of the first Europeans and their phyletic links. A new species name, Homo antecessor Bermudez de Castro et al 1997, was coined to define the hominids from the first site, whose modern facial morphology was associated with primitive dental features. Additionally, the name, Homo heidelbergensis (Shoetensack 1908), coined after the discovery of the Mauer mandible (Germany) was resurrected to define the Neanderthals' forerunners in Europe.
The majority of the fossil hominids from Europe, Africa, and Asia, from the last million years, were analyzed, including the recently discovered ATD6 69 (Gran Dolina, Spain) and Yunxian II (Hubei, China). The latter, particularly well preserved but very deformed, was reconstructed, first by computer, then as a genuine prototype. This new medium, more complete and accurate, helped us to shed a new light on the issue of the first settlements of Eurasia.
Our study focused on the upper and middle parts of the hominids' face. The entire orbit was analysed and the zygo-maxillary complex became the subject of a new analysis. We used standard anthropological methods as well as 3-D morphometric geometry based on Procrustes superpositions and PCA analyses to obtain a comprehensive treatment of the data after extracting the size.
The results show two types of faces, grouping the fossil hominids into two different species. The relative development of the maxillar and zygomatic bones, as well as their topographical relationships, split our sample into two different groups with on one side, the specimens from Gran Dolina, Arago 21, and the Neanderthals from the upper Pleistocene and, on the other side, the reconstructed Yunxian II skull, Bodo, Kabwe I, Atapuerca 405 and Petralona. An extension of the zygomaxillary complex appears in the first group, whereas a noticeable trend towards modern anatomical features emerges within the second group than Homo heidelbergensis and Homo antecessor. Homo heildenbergensis would include the idea of an ancestry for Neanderthals and Homo rhodesiensis an ancestry for modern humans. We can conclude that there were no European hominids that uniquely evolved towards Neanderthals, and that in addition to Africa, Asian and Europeans hominids contributed towards the emergence of modern humans.
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Amélie Vialet. LA FACE SUPÉRIEURE ET MOYENNE DES HOMINIDÉS FOSSILES DEPUIS LE PLÉISTOCÈNE INFÉRIEUR RÉCENT. Anthropologie biologique. Museum national d'histoire naturelle - MNHN PARIS, 2005. Français. ⟨tel-00412331⟩

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